8th Biennial San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival

Event has passed (Sat May 18, 2013 - Sun May 26, 2013)
San Francisco Financial District
Visit http://www.sexworkerfest.com/ for more info
$5 - $150


Join us for a week of sex worker art, parties and politics including four day workshop series, “Privilege, Oppression and InterseXionality,” Mariko Passion’s “Whorrific Popcorn Theatre Bus and Cabaret.” Get a whores-eye view from Amber Dawn, Emi Koyama, Brontez Purnell, Juba Kalamka, Ckiara Rose, The Incredible Edible Akynos, Tom Orr and more. Sex worker sinema at the Roxie includes “Lot Lizard,” “Whore Logic,” “Stripper Damage” Emi Koyama comes to the Bay Area with research on "Anti-Trafficking and The Carceral State."

Since 1999 the San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival has provided a forum for sex worker film and video makers to screen works about sex workers and sex work, businesses, industries and trades around the world. The Festival has expanded to become a vibrant venue for performances, workshops, visual arts, political organizing, skills sharing and ever expanding events. The Sex Worker Festival recognizes and honors prostitutes, dancers, porn performers and other sex workers from diverse communities, who have been dynamic and integral members of arts communities since time immemorial.

Performance and Parties

TheWhoreCast LIVE! Siouxsie Q brings sex worker stories, art, and voices this time LIVE and in person to kick off the Fest at the Center for Sex & Culture featuring Cinnamon Maxxine, James Darling and Courtney Trouble.The WhoreCast Trivia game and lots of surprises in this interactive live show.

Back by popular demand, San Francisco's "Musical Comedy Cabaret Porn Star" and award-winning lyricist Tom Orr presents Love For $ale redux, "Hooker with a Heart of Gold" featuring music, burlesque, and performance art via hooker showtunes in this a benefit for the St. James Infirmary, the sex worker occupational health clinic in San Francisco.

Performance curator and international multi-media artist Mariko Passion brings her "Whorrific Popcorn Theater Bus and Cabaret," as storytellers and performers including Ckiara Rose, Scarlot Harlot and Femme 6 take riders on a magical adventure with a Happy Ending!

The 8th Biennial Sex Worker Fest welcomes Amber Dawn (author of Lambda Award-winning novel Sub Rosa) launching her new work "How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustlers Memoir" on Thursday, May 23rd at "Oral Sarvices," an evening of spoken word with Brontez Purnell, Juba Kalamka, Rhiannon Argo (2009 Lambda Award winnder), Laure McElroy, Ckiara Rose, Lola Sunshine, Jacques La Femme, Dear Dawn: Aileen Wuornos in Her Own Words and folks from MNRC/POOR Magazine workshop.

Special Events

The Sex Worker Festival again presents "Whores' Bath," a spa and magical healing event for sex workers in San Francisco, "reclaiming our roles as healers." "Whores' Bath," was created by Festival co-producer, Erica Fabulous."Whores' Bath" contributes to the 21st century lexicon with a new entry in the Urban Dictionary. (www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=whores%20bath)


In 2013 the Festival launches a 4 day series of workshops, "Privilege, Oppression, and InterseXionality," for sex workers and allies in conjunction with Rhizome Consulting Project. Join us for this "mind and heart opening" workshop series as we deepen our awareness of class/race/gender and how they overlap and intersect.

Amber Dawn will be among those offering workshops at the Institute of Sex Workology on Friday on May 24th at the Center for Sex & Culture. Amber Dawn's workshop "Tough Language and Tender Wisdoms" is sex workers only but most, including Alice in Bondage Land, The Incredible Edible Akynos, Mission SRO Collaborative's "Housing Justice Framework & Sex Worker Rights" are open to all. Please check the schedule TBA re: admission policies for each workshop.
The Festival is proud to welcome activist and artist Emi Koyama. Focusing on the carceral state, Koyama's recent zine, "State Violence, Sex Trade, and the Failure of Anti-Trafficking Policies," was developed from her extensive research, documenting of false premises within the U.S. domestic anti-sex trafficking movement and the alignment with the fundamentalist Christian right. The evening also includes a selection of video clips from "Collateral Damage: Sex Workers and the Anti-Trafficking Campaigns," "Normal- Real Stories from The Sex Industry," " Last Rescue in Siam" by Empower and more.

Sex Worker Sinema at the 8th Biennial San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival by Festival curator, Laure McElroy


The San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Art Festival, as always, focuses on the lives, the art, and the struggle for workers' and human rights of people employed in sex work industries. The festival strives to maintain a forum for diverse voices, including youth, sex workers of color, migrant sex workers; sex workers' rights organizations around the world, queer and trans sex workers, sex worker artists, saints, heros and she-ros, and sex workers both within and outside the borders of the United States. Films and topics address the impact of trafficking policy and discourse on sex workers; sex work as a labor issue on the international agenda; sex work and gender identities, sex education, sex art, porn, fetish culture and erotica, as well as portraits of strippers, prostitutes, doms, madams and much more.

Lot Lizard

The festival lens has always ranged far and wide around the world; this year two of our dearest feature films draw the viewer back to the gritty strolls of these United States.

Director Alexander Perlman brings us "Lot Lizard" (for those who are unfamiliar with the term, a lot lizard is a prostitute who works primarily at truckstops serving drivers). Inspired by a conversation Perlman had in 2009 with a woman working out of the same truckstop he happened to be hitchhiking, Perlman and his two person crew put together 200 hours of documentary footage over eight weeks of filming in 2010, following a selection of sex workers as they ply their trade in a uniquely American setting, including: Monica and Frank, the boyfriend with whom she shares a room bordering the lot; Jennifer, a single mom who struggles to walk away from sex work as a livelihood because it has become bound up for her with drug addiction; Betty, who says, "I don't have to date if I don't want to… but sometimes you have to," and makes no apologies about her life on the lot. The street workers of "Lot Lizard" are by-and-large working class and poor women who are engaged in what sex worker rights movement terms "survival' sex work, that is, sex work that is performed as a way to meet very basic needs of the worker, such as shelter or food or medicating; these workers, in addition to dealing with the general stigmatization of sex work, are arguably prone to more intense criminalization due to the exposed (outdoors) nature of their work. Along with criminalizing policies, agendas of "rescue" that silence the actual voices of workers trying to communicate their own needs are heavily slanted toward people engaged in survival sex work. "Lot Lizard" does not take any easy ways out by simplifying the stories of the featured or making them pithy; and although poverty and even desperation may at times inform their work and their choices, there is in every story a clear element of strength, of will and independence that transcends victimhood.

American Courtesans

Some people envision catty strippers trash-talking each others' weight and ratting out co-workers to management for crimes imagined or real for the prime stage time or just for bitchy kicks; mainstream media throws up stereotypes of hookers pulling out each others' weaves over status in the eyes of a pimp or "dibs" on a john; what people do not see is the great affection and support that can exist between workers in this oldest and arguably hardest of professions. "American Courtesans", a feature film that is the culmination of a dream project for filmmaker and escort Kristin DiAngelo, watches like a love and acceptance letter from a sex worker to her sisterhood of fellow whores. In line with a trend in sex worker cinema that festival producer Carol Leigh identifies as arising out of the contemporary, ubiquitous genre of intensely personal reality shows, the stories of the women featured in "American Courtesans" begin at the beginning, where many of the women featured relate a past of family or professional victimization, and pull the viewer through the trauma and catharsis stories to bear witness to eventual claiming of spaces of radical empowerment as whores.

Scarlet Road documents the specialized practice of Rachel Wotton, as she works with clients who are disabled, campaigning for both sex worker rights and to increase awareness and access to sexual expression for people with disability. "Pay it no Mind: The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson," memorializes the woman who thew "the shotglass that was heard around the world" in this tribute to sex worker and LGBT history, screening with "Remembering The Living: Monica Forrester on Sister in Spirit and Indigenous Sex Workers." An array of brilliant shorts include new work from Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers; "A Kiss for Gabriela" by Laura Murray, "Whore Logic" by PJ Starr featuring The Incredible Edible Akynos, "Stripper Damage" by Gina Gold, "Sex Worker Open University 2011," "Transitioning Through Sex Work" by Jay Very, "Nada" by Nada Felini and Christian Vega, "Creative Trafficking" by Operation Snatch and many more.
Festival founder, Carol Leigh AKA Scarlot Harlot says, "Sex workers have an excellent vantage point from which to view social hypocrisy, expressed in many contexts--by the lawmakers who use their services, then sponsor policies which further criminalize them, to the wanna-be saviors who claim to 'rescue' but only increase our vulnerability. This whores-eye-view of society is reflected in this body of work by sex workers."


  1. San Francisco Financial District Market at Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA
  2. Roxie Theater 3117 16th Street, San Francisco, CA